NBN PING-PONG

STEPHEN JONES: It's great to be here on the central coast with the joint select committee with my parliamentary colleagues Senator Deb O'Neill, Senator Anne Urquhart, also joined here by Josh Wilson, who is the deputy chair, but also Emma McBride, the member for Dobell - she's a big advocate on the issues of NBN.  

Right around the country we are hearing a consistent story: delays in getting connecting, shoddy service, people being bounced between the NBN and their telecommunications company. They're calling it the NBN ping-pong. When they're trying to get a dispute resolved, nobody is taking responsibility for it.Yes, there is a problem with the old copper network, but there is also a hell of a problem with the way the NBN is administering the roll out and the way the telecommunications companies are selling their products.We are seeing people being sold products that they simply aren't getting. If this was any other product in the country - not an NBN service - but if this was as any other product in the country, people would be in court for selling a product that they simply weren't delivering. Why is it different here?

JOURNALIST: You've only been here for a couple of hours this morning, but what are some of the stories you're hearing. And are there any surprises about what you are hearing?

STEPHEN JONES: We've heard some heartbreaking stories about businesses nearly going to the wall,   because of constant service problems, because they're unable to get their disputes resolved. We've heard heart-breaking stories about residents who just want their damn phone to work. They just want their internet to work. They just want to get the service they paid for, but aren't getting.

JOURNALIST: What are some of the outcomes of the meeting today and what's next from here?

STEPHEN JONES: We've heard some great recommendations from witnesses this morning. We expect to here more this afternoon. We're going to write a report but we want action from the government. We can't wait for another two years. Businesses are going to the wall. Customers are pulling their hair out because they can't get a reliable and decent broadband and phone service. Come on, this is the twenty-first century. It's not too much to expect.

JOURNALIST: Where does the problem seem to lie? Because there seems to be, in terms of the providers and the NBN Co, who is responsible? There appears to be a lot of buck passing.

STEPHEN JONES: The evidence that we've heard today is that there are problems at all ends. There are problems with the NBN, there are problems with the phone companies. The customer is being caught in this tug-of-war between the two of them. It's not good enough. We're calling on the government to put in laws that enable both of those parties to be put together and to resolve the customers problems. The customers doesn't want to hear arguments between the NBN and the phone company about whose fault it is; they just want their phone and internet to work.  

JOURNALIST: How optimistic are you that there will be some resolution in the future? Can problems be solved? Is the NBN going to be a success in the end?

STEPHEN JONES: Look, the NBN is a great idea. Unfortunately the government, particularly Malcolm Turnbull, has turned it in the wrong direction with his copper-to-the-home proposal. Malcolm Turnbull has made the wrong decisions with his fibre-to-the-node, copper-to-the-household model. We've heard here today that it simply isn't working. It's causing more service interruptions, unreliable services, it's costing businesses a lot of money. We can't wait for two weeks for this to be fixed. There are some issues the government can act on now: fix the dispute resolution process, make the NBN more accountable, fix the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman processes to ensure that customers can get their complaints dealt with quickly.

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